Ottawa housing starts trend down in December: CMHC

Fewer apartment starts in December contributed to Ottawa housing starts trending down that month, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said Monday.

“A high level of completed and unsold condominium apartment units prompted builders to lower their inventories under construction by reducing starts for this dwelling type,” CMHC’s principal Ottawa market analyst Jean-Sébastien Michel said in a statement.

Housing starts in Ottawa trended at 5,517 in December, down from 6,141 in November, the CMHC said.

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Mr. Michel said lower apartment starts affected the total actual housing starts for the year as well.

“Total actual housing starts for 2015 were at 4,972 units, almost 14% lower than in 2014, as employment remained soft throughout the year,” Mr. Michel said.

The six-month trend is used to complement the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of housing starts, accounting for the possibility of considerable swings in monthly estimates.

December’s SAAR was 5,184, down from 8,084 posted in November.

National housing starts in December came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 172,965 homes, down from 212,028 in November, also mainly because of fewer multiple-unit projects.

Economists had expected an annual pace of 200,000, according to Thomson Reuters.

The slowdown in the annual pace of new home starts came as the rate of urban starts fell 19.1 per cent in December to 159,007 units.

Multiple urban starts dropped 27.0 per cent to 101,264, while single-detached urban starts held steady at 57,743.

The pace of urban starts fell in the Prairies, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada, but increased in British Columbia and Quebec.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 13,958.

The six-month moving average of housing starts was 203,502 units in December compared with 208,204 in November.

– with files from the Canadian Press

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